Barbie's next big move? Teach 10 million kids to code


Mattel, the global company responsible for brands like Barbie, Barney and Polly Pocket, is working with the kid-friendly computing platform Tynker with the aim of teaching 10 million children to code in the next two years.

It’s an “ambitious — but achievable — goal,” Krishna Vedati, co-founder and CEO of Tynker, said in a statement.

Tynker — used today by 1 in 3 U.S. schools, the company estimates — and Mattel teamed up for the first time in 2015. Back then, they were developing computer programs that they said eventually reached nearly 4 million children. One such program involved Hot Wheels, Mattel’s popular toy car brand; the companies created an online game where kids could use coding concepts to program their Hot Wheels to win a race.

The partners have a few ideas about how they’re going to teach so many children to code in such a short time. For starters, they plan to have a Barbie-themed programming experience that is intended to appeal to girls. Participants will learn basic coding concepts while getting exposure to possible careers as veterinarians, astronauts and robotics engineers. Numerous studies have shown that females are dramatically underrepresented in STEM fields and computer science.

“The partnership is to help girls get interested in STEM careers and apply coding as a life skill to whatever their interest is in the future,” Vedati said in an interview with EdScoop.

“By exposing kids to STEM experiences on Tynker through Mattel characters they know and love, they may develop a passion for science and computing that could lead them to a career in a STEM-related field,” Mattel CTO Sven Gerjets said in the statement.

Another key initiative for the pair this year includes a Mattel code-a-thon and teacher outreach, in which Mattel and Tynker will co-host a back-to-school digital event that features kids’ favorite characters. The two companies will provide tools and resources to help teachers in the classroom.

Their final initiative is focused on global student
engagement. Fan favorites like Hot Wheels and Barbie will be used to promote
the 2018
Computer Science Education Week Hour of Code at the
end of the year, in December.